Sore Thumbs 04.11.134/10/2013
‘BIOSHOCK: INFINITE’ (M)
The original “BioShock” Ayn Rand-ian, underwater dystopia of Rapture is arguably the most compelling and atmospheric setting ever seen in a video game. Simply returning to it, as we did in “BioShock 2,” couldn’t satiate our craving to step back into a similarly mysterious and unsettling new world. So “BioShock: Infinite” has left the art deco metropolis behind and lifted us to Columbia — a floating city in the clouds. At first glance, this early 1900s-era collection of bobbing buildings seems like the antithesis to the sparsely populated dark corridors of Rapture. Children play in the spray of fire hydrants and flags flutter in the breeze as though life were a perpetual Fourth of July cover on the Saturday Evening Post. But despite its sunny sheen, Columbia is as dark a dystopia as Rapture ever was — a Nationalist state, where patriotism, religious zeal, racism and xenophobia have been taken to their most horrific extremes.
As former private investigator Booker DeWitt, you’ve been sent to Columbia on a mystery-shrouded mission to liberate an imprisoned girl named Elizabeth. The plot thickens when you discover that Elizabeth has the power to open tears into parallel universes — a neat trick that leads to a climax so shocking, it makes the original “Would you kindly?” twist of “BioShock” seem downright quaint. Along the way, you’ll experience gameplay both familiar and excitingly new. There’s plenty of superbly executed first-person gunplay, and standing in for the first game’s super-powered Plasmids are “Infinite” Vigors, which allow you to possess machinery or send a murder of crows to swarm your enemies. Far from a damsel in distress, Elizabeth has the ability to augment these powers, helping you enormously in combat. And the rail system connecting the separate islands of Columbia allows for sprawling action sequences as you become a human rollercoaster, careening through the city as you fire away at its twisted inhabitants. “BioShock: Infinite” is a thrilling game, a smart game, a surprising game and a bold game. In other words, it’s a worthy successor to “BioShock.”
‘LUIGI’S MANSION: DARK MOON’ (E)
Normally relegated to Player 2 status, Mario’s younger brother got his chance to shine solo in the GameCube launch title “Luigi’s Mansion” back in 2001. A dozen years later, Luigi is back to exploring decrepit old buildings and vacuuming up wayward poltergeists. In many ways, “Dark Moon” is essentially an old-fashioned point-n-click adventure game. You scrutinize detailed backdrops, searching for hints to hidden secrets and clever solutions to environmental puzzles. Luigi’s bumbling personality and nervous muttering are well suited to his amateur ghostbusting exploits, and wrangling stubborn spooks with an oversized dustbuster is fun for all ages.
‘MONSTER HUNTER 3 ULTIMATE’ (T)
This enhanced port of 2010’s “Monster Hunter Tri” has you contending with everything from dragons, to demonic bunny rabbits, to creatures that defy attempts at succinct description. The hunts themselves are satisfyingly epic, allowing you to use a variety of different weapons and armors to bring down these aggressive behemoths, whose carcasses you’ll eventually use to fabricate an even greater variety of weapons and armor. The dated console graphics are up to par on the handheld platform, but the 3DS’ limited controls can make camera shifting a cumbersome affair — particularly when hunting underwater monsters. CV